Thursday, May 05, 2005

Disneyworld on the Kansas Plains?

Nita Jones excitedly showed me around her hometown. She gushed about the people who had moved to the community and businesses they started. We ate breakfast at the Green Door Restaurant, a legendary main street diner and had lunch at the Rack Shack Barbeque, a brand new one just west of town.

We started at the St. Charles one room schoolhouse, which also serves as the Chamber’s office, visited Bill Kurtis’ Red Buffalo Ranch (if you go be sure to see Prairehenge) and ended with a walking tour of downtown Sedan.

I was amazed by the number of entrepreneurs who had developed businesses in the downtown area. They included Kurtis’ Red Buffalo Gift Shop and Art on the Prairie Gallery. But the shops included several antique stores, a quilt shop, a gift and floral shop, a hunting equipment store, a stained glass store, hardware store, hunting guide service and several others. Kurtis has plans for an Art’s College, hoping to turn Sedan into an artist colony.

One of my favorite stores was the Lost Sugar Mine Confectionary, where I stocked up for the rest of my 400 mile trip that day. In the back of Alyce Youngblood’s store is an animated sugar mine tour that puts Disney’s Small World ride to shame. Alyce is a retired college professor who moved to Sedan from Tyler, TX. She was one of many who I met who moved here from around the country and have started or bought businesses.

The community recently raised $1.3 million to redo the old Bradford Hotel, a 32 room three story hotel that has been closed for 40 years. Beginning in 2006, Sedan will now be able to accommodate overnight bus tours. The 82 buses that visited last year were all day trippers. They hope to expand their bus tours and other visitors with the refurbished Bradford. Nita walked me thru the numbers of each bus, calculating that each busload of visitors spends about $3000, but would triple that amount if they stayed overnight.

Sedan is on a path of greater things. Keep your eye on them.

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